About 2 years ago I wrote out my entire testimony about how the Lord had brought me through the tragedy of rape; through the waters of infertility and then through the crushing financial time of filing bankruptcy and being where I am today.
Recently we did a cleanup day at my house, and unfortunately the old notebook containing that written testimony was misplaced/tossed out.
Funny thing is, instead of being very upset about that – I feel that it is God telling me to “rewrite it”, just as He is “rewriting me” now that I have again gone through yet another difficult time losing my father, and am in the process of healing and grieving. This is my attempt at the rewrite in such a way that it will continue to give God glory and perhaps inspire those who hear it.
So let me start at the beginning. I HAD A PRETTY NORMAL LIFE. I was born the only daughter to my parents, with 2 older brothers and 1 younger brother. We were raised in a loving home, with rules and lessons and one that always centered on Sundays at church. My Dad was born in Poland and raised us all in a Catholic church – same church that I was married in, and my sons were also baptized in.
As we went through our early school years we learned a lot ABOUT God. We went to CCD classes on Sundays after church, and attended Holy Days. But I couldn’t say that I had any kind of “close relationship with Christ” at that time in my life.
I have always had some trouble with my weight, as a lot of people do. The pressure and stress that brings is difficult, especially as you get into high school.
During the summer between 9th and 10th grade I lost the weight and was at a healthier number on the scale. Suddenly boys were looking at me and interested and talking to me! This felt great! I did not understand at that age that my true worth and value is in the Lord Jesus Christ who brought us into this world. I might have started to learn that “in my head”, but it certainly was not in my heart or spirit yet at this time. So I followed the crowd; I wanted to be “one of the pretty girls” and soon found myself with a boyfriend. Sadly, I put my whole self-worth in the fact that this boy had noticed me, WANTED to be around me and all of a sudden I had this awesome confidence.
We still attended church, and we still learned “ABOUT” God. And I had a boyfriend.
During the summer that I turned 16, we went on a camping trip as was customary for our family. I was being allowed new freedoms and to spread my wings a little bit, and wandered off the campground with my “racy friend” who came with me that time. We met some guys and they gave us their number. When my family returned to the campground the following month, this time it was I who was the “racy friend” and had brought a friend with me who was about 3 years younger than I was. She was not interested in calling this boy, or in leaving the campground at all – but I told her “come on we’ll have fun!” So we called them up, and we crept off the campground with our swim suits to go on this “adventure” with two boys we barely knew, off to a lovely waterfall and hiking area they said that they knew about.
Oh if I could turn back time and change the choices that I made that day, but of course nobody can do that. We can only move forward and try and make the best of a bad situation – with God’s help.
I’m going to paint the picture of what happened that day; I spent so long not talking about it, that I feel compelled to explain it in detail as I now step out in faith to share this with you.
We left the campground, and we got into that car. He had a friend for my girlfriend who was with me, and the plan was that we were “going to a nice area to hike and take a swim”. We got there, and started hiking and the other boy took my friend in one direction, and the guy I was with took me and headed towards the top of this mountain. It was a pretty day, the rain stopped and it was actually a nice hike. I have always loved nature. As we approached the top of the mountain, it was clear that he did not want to “just go for a walk”. Before I knew it he was on top of me, I had been knocked to the ground and he started raping me. I had nowhere to go, I could not get out of it – if I turned to the one side, I would fall off this cliff. And so there I was, in this horrible situation, with nothing to do but to hope and pray that nothing would happen to my friend and that it would be over quickly. Tears trickled quietly down my cheek.
When it was over, he laughed to his friend that “I think someone lost something” and he jumped off the cliff into the water below. I lay there crushed; frozen; stunned; and heart broken.
I had to get up, I had to make sure my friend was okay, and I had no idea where we were or how to get back to camp from there. Thankfully nothing had happened to my friend, they were just on a walk. But this guy had to now drive us both back to camp.
The entire time we drove I sat there wondering “what if he has a knife?” “What if he does not take us back to camp?” “What if he has a gun?” – I did not know what to think, and I sat there; stunned in numb silence; while he again laughed with his buddy…. I was completely broken inside, and here he was LAUGHING.
As we got out of the car returned to camp, my friend and I were thankful – and I thought “okay… we’re safe now” in my head.
As the car drove off behind us, and the two of us girls started walking the next betrayal of the day came. She turned to me and said, “I can’t believe you did that, I saw what you did up there! Shame on you” – and there started the beginning of my years of shame and self-blame for something that was not my fault at all. Rape is not your fault!
The thought of this happening, and the first comment said to me was blame made me further in my shock and silence. I sat in the river at the swimming area of camp… I remember sitting there for what felt like hours but may have been only 20 minutes…
I needed to be clean. I felt the need to wash and wash and wash the horror off my body. Eventually, as I started out of the water my friend again made a comment to me and this time it was “I won’t tell your parents, but I still can’t believe what you did”. Okay. I can’t tell my parents? More shock crept up in my soul. Okay, I just have to get through this trip and I won’t tell them.
I was already feeling shame from the crisis that had happened; and then from my friend who blamed me the moment it happened. When we got home, I kept seeking for “who could I trust?” with this information. I recognized my need for help and healing, and I was desperate to find where that would come from.
However, the shame and betrayal continued. First my “boyfriend” that I held all my self-worth with, was furious with me when I told him and he broke up with me. He blamed me for even going up there.
Then the friend who had met these boys with me the first camping trip had a horrible reaction to the news too – she was jealous; she had a crush on that guy, and also blamed me for even contacting him and going on a hike. She would not talk to me and our friendship pretty much died that day. Another crushing blow.
I wanted so badly to tell someone who would believe me, so that I could tell my Mom. Yet at every corner, everyone I chose to tell was pushing me away – telling me it was my fault – and then leaving me. How could I face the thought of possibly losing my Mom and Dad? Would they just yell at me? Dad would be so upset with me, that I left the campsite and took my younger friend with me. Oh the lectures I could already hear in my head. No, not worth it. I would have to find another way to deal with it.
Rumors spread through my high school that I was easy and a slut. The looks I got when I walked down the hall by some people were a reminder of the shame I felt from what had happened to me. It was a dark and scary time.
And through all of these moments, I still went home; ate dinner with my family; and went to church every Sunday. To learn more “about” God. Some of it thankfully got deep down in my soul, only to be sleeping for a very long time later to be awoken.
THE FALLOUT – My Poor Self-worth Reinforced
To get through it and numb the pain, I started to go to drinking parties. I surely must have some great guardian angels because there are times that I was shocked I had made it home safe. I hitchhiked once with a friend I worked with and we met a few guys that way, and would go with them to their parties. Somehow by the grace of God I managed to maintain high honors in school, and graduated with my friends. Smiling on the outside, all the while a crumbling mess of tears and fear on the inside.
I would find guys who were interested in me to spend time with, and figured that I must be here for physical use, so I allowed myself to be intimate with a few boyfriends between then and when I met my husband. I was lost, in a dark place, and figured that my worth was on what guys thought of me; whether I was accepted by peers; and if I could make it through the day without having to tell anyone my horrible secret. That was my survival mode. God was just someone I heard about on Sunday mornings, He was not yet real to me. I spent my time drinking, and finding guys to spend time with.
STARTING TO TRUST AND DISCLOSE
During college I had the pleasure of meeting a great person – he was funny, and sensitive and kind. His name was Tom and he was unlike the other guys I had met before. We became fast friends and during my last night at the dorms, before I was to move out for graduation we had one of those “walks and talks” that last all night. We walked around campus into the wee hours of the morning sharing stories of ourselves with one another and getting closer and closer. I heard God tell me that it was “okay” and I could “trust this one” with my secret. So I did. This was now 4 years after the rape, and Tom was the first person I told who had the response I had been waiting for – “I am so very sorry that happened to you” he said. There was kindness and compassion in his eyes, and no judgment at all. He saw into my soul and the hurt that was there and he just wanted to be my friend and make it better. He did not try to make a pass at me, did not try to kiss me, just listened and walked and talked. It got chilly as we walked, and he lent me his jacket (which I still wear to this day). When I went to sleep that night, I knew that God had sent this person into my life and I am proud to tell you that we are about to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this year, 24 years together since we started dating. I thank God for my husband every day.
I did not understand it at the time, but that was the beginning of my healing. To have a person who understood and believed me was incredible! I started to think that I might be able to tell my parents. But not yet. Life kept moving and events happened that consumed my thoughts, so I just kept it buried deep. I was not going to the drinking parties anymore, I was a college graduate and I had a job to find and a life to start. And this wonderful friend in my life Tom.
During my first job at a law firm in Boston, the top lawyer of the firm one day came over to get something from the fax machine, and he commented on the blue skirt I was wearing and then he touched my leg saying “that looks nice”. Before I knew it, I was in the ladies room having a panic attack. “What just happened?” – Given my history, there was no way I was about to tell anyone; and this guy was a lawyer. A rich, smart older lawyer who had all kinds of people just at his disposal. Surely nobody would believe me that “he made a pass at me”. I quit that job.
But looking back I am thankful that this happened – it cracked my hard shell and allowed my emotions and feelings to come flooding to the surface and pushed me to tell my Mom about what had happened when I was 16. It was one of the best, yet hardest conversations we have ever had. Of course she did not think I was lying, she cried and hugged me and we talked. I got into therapy and started the healing process. And for the first time I was told “It was NOT YOUR FAULT”. Amazing what those words will do to someone who has been violated. During therapy the memories that were coming out were scary at times. I was living in my first apartment by myself and I would open the cupboard to get something and see his face; I would open the shower curtain to step in and see his face. I felt haunted for a short time by him but I had to face him. Therapy is a wonderful thing. It does help. And people praying for me during this time helped a lot.
GOD CAN HEAL YOUR HURTS
Fast forward several years later, after I was married and became a mother and Tom and I started attending an ALPHA course that our church offered at that time. The twins were 2, and my parents came over to spend the weekend with them so that Tom and I could attend the weekend retreat portion of the class. During that weekend, in a healing session, with tears in my eyes – I forgave the person who raped me so many years before. No, I did not call him up on the phone; in fact, God is so good that He has wiped this person from my memory. I no longer can see his face, I have long forgotten his name; and he does not pop out of my kitchen cupboards anymore. But with God’s help, in total surrender, I gave that part of myself over to the Lord – and He took it. He has been healing me piece by piece since then. And finally, the nightmare of that guy’s face would no longer haunt me; I was being believed by all who heard me speak; and I learned the truth – it is not my fault; and God loves me and wants to heal me.
There is a big difference between learning “about God”, and KNOWING God. When you start that journey God will surely find you wherever you are. HE will reach you however He needs to. He will put people and situations in your life that help you and He will also give you much beauty for ashes.
REVELATION OF GOD’S PROTECTION – Being THANKFUL For Infertility
This is not the only time God has touched my life, or healed me or given me answers. After Tom and I were married a few years, we wanted to start a family. It was not happening the natural way, and we began what would be about 3 years of infertility treatments, doctor visits and inseminations. I cried and I prayed and I begged God “Why won’t you let me have a baby?” and I even wondered at one point if it was punishment for past sins. Could God do that? Thankfully there were people in my life who reminded me that “No, God would not punish you in that way” and I kept going. After what was our 4th IUI, we were blessed with not 1 but 2 beautiful children from God – my sons Nicholas and Matthew. What an amazing blessing they are to our lives, I give thanks every day for them! They are amazing.
During another bible study time, God gave me this realization – I often asked Him why it took so long for me to conceive, and why He wouldn’t “let me” have children earlier. He told me that when the rape happened, He saved me from being pregnant. My infertility was actually a blessing that God gave me so that during that time of great sorrow and hurt, I would not have had to deal with also being pregnant MUCH before I was prepared to be. It was His way of reaching into my life and saving that part of me. Can you imagine, after crying out begging to have children, years later thanking God for your infertility? But that happened – and things like that DO happen when you start to trust and know God on a personal level. Even as I write this and I look at that sentence, I am still blown away.
TRUSTING GOD TO HEAL YOUR HURTS
As I am sitting to write this, I am dealing with the grief that comes from losing a parent. My dear sweet Daddy… Tata in Polish. It hurts. My heart has a big hole in it and I am so sad that I don’t get to see him and talk to him and hug him. I know without a doubt where he is, and I am happy for him – just sad for me.
One of the things that my Dad and I shared is a strong faith. I am thankful that he got to see me become a young woman of faith; become a wife and a mother; he witnessed some of the best blessings that God has given me and I am so happy about that.
God is still healing me and walking me through this season of grieving and it is very hard. Some days I can’t barely breathe; some days I don’t want to leave the house, I have to talk with myself for a long time to get up and get ready for work. Or I see something that brings up a memory and I cry big tears. Which are okay. Tears wash the soul; tears are your love spilling out onto your face; tears are all collected in a bottle by our Father in Heaven. And when the healing part of this season is done, I will have new blessings and new testimony to share I believe.
BUT I TRUST GOD with all of this; with this pain; with my grief; with what is going on right now as I know from seeing Him work in my life before what He can do if we only let Him in; and ask Him to heal us.
What I wanted to say about dealing with rape and HEALING in any way for anyone out there who has also been violated, here are the main messages:
1 – IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. No means No. It is not what you were wearing, what you said, whether you put on makeup, if you are thin or not, if you talked to a boy – no. It was NOT YOUR FAULT. The only person to blame for rape is the rapist. Period.
2 – You need some true friends in your life. God did not create us to go through this life alone; we hear about that in the Bible; we are learning about that during Sunday morning sermons; God meant for us to go through this life with Him and with other believers; and to let people walk through life WITH US. Please find a friend that you can make what I call a “Friend Contract” with. That is no matter what you say to them, they will accept that as truth. No questions asked. We used to have something like that as a “Drunk Driving Contract” when I was in high school – you would sign, your parents would sign and the goal was if you were out drinking and called for a ride, they would pick you up – no matter where, when etc. Of course there would likely be a discussion following that, but you get the idea – it is a contract that says I WILL BE THERE for you. This is what I mean by a friend contract – I WILL BE THERE. (Insert Friends TV show theme song LOL)
3 – God is here for you; HE LOVES YOU; and He is waiting with open arms to welcome you in; to hold you; to protect you; to love you; and to heal you in every way that you need it.
4 – Life Gets Better – this is not the end of your story; God has much in store you can’t possibly imagine yet.
I won’t pretend to tell you that I am done with my healing; I doubt any of us are while here on this earth. However I am much stronger; much happier; much more faith-filled than I was when this all started. I have looked back at my teenage self and wondered before “what would I do if I could do that day over again?” and yes there are lessons for the youth hearing this – probably not a wise idea to sneak off a campground and get into a car with someone you don’t really know. Okay that one was on me. And afterwards, when we safely got back to the campground I do really wish I had told an adult – the person working the camp check in; a lifeguard ANYONE; that would have helped me go and tell my parents and I wonder what my healing would have looked like. But I can’t go backwards only forwards.
There are some things that will happen in your life that you can sort of look at and sort in your own head. Easy puzzles you know – 5 piece puzzle you give a toddler for example. They can learn to do that on their own. But if you’ve ever taken a 500 piece puzzle out of a box, spilled out all the colorful pieces and looked at them you realize – this will take me a lot longer, and hey I might need some help.
Life is that way as you get older, and you start dealing with other things in life, you will find yourself working on bigger puzzles; more intricate; smaller pieces of a huge finished design; and God knows you will need help in completing that.
That’s how it is with healing; with life; with choices; with growing in faith; with making decisions. You need some help.
A favorite Christian speaker and author of mine Joyce Meyer has a saying “I might not be where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be” – and I love that. It speaks volumes to the fact that we are “in the middle” here – we are not at the final destination of the person we aspire to be, but hey we are not where we started either – we can move past it; we can move forward; we can take a step of faith and reach out and see where God will take you.
This life on earth is a gift. And not one to be taken for granted. I have had many things that God has brought me to and through and I know that He too will get me through this time of grief. Wherever you are, whatever you are dealing with may you be encouraged today to understand that God loves you; and He will never leave you or forsake you.
- Songs that inspire me – my wonderful sister in Christ named Wendy that lives in New Mexico and I met on a moms of multiples group – introduced me to a wonderful song “Beautiful” by Mercy Me. There was a show on tv that was dealing with the subject of rape and I was really struggling with it and she shared that song with me. It really helped me when I’m in that dark place. And not feeling very good about myself. It is a reminder of how the Lord sees me – BEAUTIFUL. And You are too.
- “Today is the Day” by Lincoln Brewster – this is a great rockin PARTY song if you ask me; celebrating that no matter what has happened yesterday, God has given us ANOTHER CHANCE to get it right – ANOTHER DAY to rejoice; to celebrate; to BE GLAD IN IT. Thank God for every sunrise you have. His mercies are new every day.
- “The Well” by Casting Crowns. COME TO THE WELL; Leave it all behind. When you are searching for a “fix” or “something to lift your spirits” and you can’t figure out where to go, God is telling you “Come to me – COME TO THE WELL” and He fills us once again. Every… single…time…
- Mandisa “Overcomer” and also “Unfinished” – both are encouraging in their own way
There are countless other songs that have helped me on this journey of healing. Right now I find myself listening to “Beautiful Things” by Mark Gungor; my son introduced me to that one and it is a reminder of how God can take the darkest place and make something beautiful grow there; he can bring you out of the pit!
I also listen to “Home” by Chris Tomlin. This has special meaning as we just lost my Dad on April 9 to brain cancer. It was a horrible season, but there was beauty mixed in there as well; as I know he is now “Home” in heaven with the Lord. And he has shared his faith with me and me with my children. The legacy of faith and love and joy is not lost. I drink a lot of Dunkin Donuts coffee and smile as he loved that also; I eat Polish food and remember countless days doing that with my Dad; I watch for red cardinals and know that there are angels around me; and I hear him often as I go through my day. He is not physically here with me, but he is definitely with me in spirit.
Thank you for taking the time to read or listen to this testimony. May it bless you in whatever way the Lord knows that you need.
In Christ, Teresa (Jegorow) Glynn Haverhill MA
I want to take a moment to thank Teresa for sharing her testimony. I was saddened and filled with joy. The joy of knowing she knew God still loved her, and that rape is NOT her fault. I’m so honored to have you share your story here and honored to have you in my group or as I always say, OUR group. As we live our lives we never know someone else’s story. Your story will empower others. Strangers coming together and sharing struggles, failures, joys, and successes. I love you girlfriend.